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Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Real Madrid slump to fourth straight draw as Atletico go top

Reuters , Sunday 2 Oct 2016
Real Madrid
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale, centre, runs with the ball past Eibar's Ruben Pena (AP)

Real Madrid's stuttering run continued as they were held 1-1 at home by La Liga minnows Eibar on Sunday, drawing a fourth consecutive game in all competitions for the first time in more than a decade.

Fran Rico stunned the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium by heading the visiting side into the lead in the sixth minute and scoring Eibar's first goal against Real in La Liga, facilitated by some questionable Real defending and goalkeeping from Keylor Navas.

Gareth Bale headed home a Cristiano Ronaldo cross to level in the 17th minute and score his 50th La Liga goal and the Wales international came close to grabbing the winner in the second half but headed against the far post.

Real surrendered top spot to Atletico Madrid, who beat Valencia 2-0 earlier on Sunday and provisionally top the table on goal difference, while champions Barcelona can take first place if they win at Celta Vigo later on Sunday.

The European champions were without influential midfielders Casemiro and Luka Modric and their injury woes were compounded when playmaker James Rodriguez sustained a muscle problem in the warm up.

Real were jeered off the pitch at the final whistle, which signalled a fourth consecutive draw following stalemates with Villarreal and Las Palmas and their 2-2 draw with Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.

"We did not play in the first half and our opponents did. The second half was much better, which is something we've been saying too much lately," Real coach Zinedine Zidane told a news conference.

"I believe in hard work, and the quality of this team and if we put in hard enough work then the quality will show."

Antoine Griezmann made amends for missing a second penalty in as many games by hitting the opening goal as Atletico were made to sweat to take all three points at Valencia, who had new coach Cesare Prandelli watching in the stands.

The France hitman saw his first-half penalty beaten away by spot-kick saving specialist Diego Alves, who repelled another penalty from Gabi later on. But he finally blasted past the Brazilian goalkeeper in the 63rd minute, while Kevin Gameiro sealed the points in injury time.

"It's not easy to play at Mestalla against Valencia, they had won two games in a row and are enthusiastic about their new coach," said Atletico coach Diego Simeone.

"But our players are incredible and they never stop."

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